April 5, 2012:
The March 31 car bombing changed the war against Islamic terrorists in the Moslem south. The latest attacks were in tourist areas, which had, until now, been left alone. There were practical reasons for that, as one of the big sources of employment in the south is in the thriving tourism industry. The hotels near the bombings suffered cancellation of 40 percent of their reservations in the days after the explosions. If bookings remain down, southerners will be out of work and they will know who to blame.
These attacks on tourism are seen as a desperation tactic. The Islamic terrorists were never popular with a majority of the Moslems in the south. Police estimate that the Islamic terror groups consist of about 300 fulltime leaders and specialists, 3,000 active (but part-time) members and 10,000 civilian supporters. That's less than one percent of the population and a larger number of Moslems are actively operating against the Islamic terrorists (as informers and in the part-time village defense force). The Islamic terrorists are enraging more Moslems in the south by attacking tourism but with so many southern Moslems already against them, and the security forces steadily taking apart the terrorist gangs, applying more terror to the Moslem population seemed a reasonable approach but not for all of the terror groups down there. There are several Islamic terror organizations and they are not formally united. The March 31 attacks were apparently made by one of the more fanatic groups. This escalation by one group could cause fighting between the terrorist groups, many of which are backed by local criminal gangs (who depend on some local good-will to succeed at smuggling, the major criminal enterprise in the south).
Despite the efforts of the security forces, civilians in the three southern (Moslem) provinces continue to flee the Islamic terrorism. A decade ago the population consisted of 1.9 million Moslems and 400,000 Buddhists. Since then, 120,000 Buddhists and 190,000 Moslems have fled their homes because of the violence. While most of the Moslems went to other parts of the three provinces, most of the Buddhists fled the south. Most of the refugees were Moslem because the Islamic terrorists have attacked the Moslems who did not agree with the violence and opposed the terrorists. The Islamic terrorists are intent on driving all non-Moslems out of the three provinces and establishing a Moslem state.
Police believe the five Iranians they have in custody, and being questioned about the bomb factory that exploded on February 14th, are indeed working for Iranian intelligence. Iran refuses to cooperate with the investigation and blames Israel. The investigation has found connections between the Thailand bombers and another team in India. And the longer the investigation goes on, the more connections are found.
April 4, 2012: Police arrested two men and accused them of belonging to a gang responsible for at least one of the March 31st car bombings. The day before, police had identified the two men as suspects and offered rewards of $16,240 for information that led to their capture. That apparently worked.
March 31, 2012: In the south three car bombs went off in cities frequented by foreign tourists, killing 14 people and wounding over 300.
March 15, 2012: Police seized 2.5 million methamphetamine pills and 50 kg (110 pounds) of crystal meth near the Burmese border. Three Thai citizens were arrested as well. This comes two weeks after police seized 4 million methamphetamine pills. So far this year police have seized 12 million methamphetamine pills.
Called yaba ("speed" in the U.S.), methamphetamine is a growing problem in Thailand, although most of the meth coming from Burma is shipped on to other markets. But enough of the meth stays in Thailand to create a growing police problem (with addicts and unruly tourists). Police and border guards are cracking down on the smuggling, hoping to at least persuade the meth manufacturers in Burma to use another route to ship their product to the world.
March 14, 2012: The air force is buying six late-model radars as part of a program to upgrade their F-16 jet fighters. Some $700 million will be spent to upgrade the 60 F-16s in the air force.
March 13, 2012: The government extended the state of emergency in the Moslem south for another three months. This gives the police and army additional powers of search and arrest.